Monday, June 30, 2008

In Other News, People Are Stupid

I love conspiracy theories and baseless rumors as much as the next girl, but, really...if we just got rid of Ohio, would anyone miss it?

Today's Post tells us all about the people of Findlay, Ohio, who apparently believe all sorts of awesome untrue things about Barack Obama. It's not the ignorance of the Findlayans that kills me, it's the willful stupidity. And if that makes me an urban Starbucks-toting snooty lily-livered elitist, so be it. Money quote:

"I understand he's from Africa, and that the first thing he's going to do if he gets into office is bring his family over here, illegally. He's got that racist [pastor] who practically raised him, and then there's the Muslim thing. He's just not presidential material, if you ask me."

So, Obama's an African Muslim, but he was practically raised by a pastor (who are, generally speaking, Christian) in America. That's not just being a bit misguided. You would really need to do some mental backflips to twist yourself into that one. That level of idiocy takes perseverance and effort. If we could harness the willful ignorance of America's Findlays, along with the mental power used to make bongs out of honey jars and soda cans, we'd have a cure for cancer by now.

The other hilarious part is that the locals believe whatever their friends and neighbors tell them. As one man says, "These are good people, smart people, so can they really all be wrong?"

Because if you love someone, they must be right. Right?

I love my mom, and she believes Clearasil is carcinogenic and that the FBI keeps a file on me. I have a friend who sends me at least one (easily discredited) chain email rumor a week, usually that antiperspirant causes breast cancer or that Microsoft will give me money for forwarding stuff. I also know a guy who thinks the Trilateral Commission sets gas prices. Just because these are all lovely, God-fearing people doesn't mean I'm going to banish benzoyl peroxide and antiperspirant from my medicine cabinet.

Look, voters are dumb. They are thick and selfish and willfully silly. I was a pollster, and I can tell you, empirically, within a margin of error of three percentage points, precisely how dumb voters truly are. Our current president was chosen based on whom we'd rather have a beer with. Apparently, a majority of us would rather have a beer with a teetotaler, because we're just that smart.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is this: it's not just Findlay, Ohio. And I take back my assertion that we should just get rid of the entire state.

All we can do is cross our fingers and hope the next president improves education enough that perhaps the next generation won't be choosing presidents based on what Joe down at the bait shop thinks.

In the comments, pretend you're Joe from the bait shop and tell me something outrageous.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Super-Special Guest Post: Manscaping Edition

I'd briefly considered renaming this site Pimps n' Pubes, but as commenter Dave B. points out, y'all might think I'm a priest. Also, I don't want the dreaded Not Safe For Work designation. So, instead, I'm farming out my inappropriate content.

The sassy-but-classy Zipcode, aka Capitol Hill 20210, has kindly offered to share her views on manscaping.
So, have a good day, and Trim One for the Zipper! (I know, groan.)

Zipcode's Grooming Tips for Men

Ok boys, its your turn to clean up for us. We spend countless hours experiencing pain, spending money, and getting in some interesting positions at the waxer just so you have a nice view and a good time while you are down there! Granted I do this for myself not just for you.

So let's begin with the things that are important: nose hair, underarm hair, ear hair and your lucky charms.

You should invest in a really good Personal Trimmer - you can get them at Bed Bath and Beyond for a reasonable price - that will take care of the nose and ear hair issue.

Another good investment is a hair trimmer clipper device that comes with all those tools for you to trim things down per se. If you don't want to shave the forest above your lucky charms, then at least trim it. That tool is perfect for that because you can give it a nice buzz cut - haha. As for the charms two friends that hang right under - yeah get rid of that hair as well please. There are some products that will provide some smooth sailing (pun intended) - granted they are marketed for the females, there is no shame in buying these for yourself and they aren't even pink. I highly recommend Bikini Zone Topical Analgesic Creme, awesome stuff - helps with the bumps and ingrowns. Bikini Zone Anti Bumps Shave Gel - awesome stuff - makes for an easy shave. Also - there is the stuff called Coochi - yes I know nice name - you have to get it at an adult web store like Adam and Eve or maybe the local MVC has it I don't know - but that is the best stuff ever!!!!!

So, if you decide to take the waxing plunge guys for your lucky charms - I recommend 2 Ibuprofen 30 minutes before you go to the appointment. Yes, you should go to a salon and spa to get this done, not some 10 dollar no hollar wax place that may provide a happy ending - ha. The benefits of going to high end spa i.e. Red Door, Aveda, Sugar House - they really take care of you and not make it feel so impersonal. Don't be a perv or inappropriate at these places you will get kicked out. I worked a salon in college and I believe the military guys that came in to get their goods waxed expected a happy ending. Because the waxer kicked them out. Honestly, its not that bad - I think an eyebrow wax is more painful then a bikini wax - the brazillian, well thats a whole another story.

Programming Note: Due to offsite meetings, travel, and a generally glamourous existence, no post tomorrow. I'll be pretty much offline Fri-Sun, so be good while I'm gone. And if you can't be good, be happy.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

How to Be Cool in 10 Steps or Less

1. Purchase white skirt at Benetton. Hey, I never wear white, but it's more than 50% off! Neat!
2. Wear new skirt to work the very next day.
3. Decide at 4:00 that THIS IS THE PERFECT DAY to box up the used toners for recycling.
4. Promptly splash Dell 3010cn-model black toner across front of brand-new skirt.
5. Spend next ten minutes in the bathroom, swabbing skirt with wet paper towels.
6. Realize entire front of skirt is now quite wet.
7. Realize (even though I'm a classy lady and wore a slip) that due to whiteness of skirt, substantial portions of my anatomy are now on display.
8. Spend rest of day at desk, hoping I will not have to stand up for any reason. Hey, but I'm sure it would make a bike courier's day!
9. Vow to never ever again purchase white clothing. Even if I get remarried. To Prince William. At Westminster Abbey. And ride to the ceremony in a carriage pulled by sparkly purple unicorns.
10. Decide TOMORROW IS THE PERFECT DAY to recycle toners.

This Just In: The Land of Lincoln Moved 558 Miles East

One of the best things about tourist season is being asked for directions 10,000 billion times each and every day. And the best of the best is being asked directions to tourist landmarks that do not, in fact, exist. Moreover, the best of the best of the best is when the tourist blames me personally for the fact they are seeking a landmark which does not, in fact, exist.

Saturday evening, on my way to dinner, I was asked for directions twice within a two block stroll. First I was asked which way to the Mall, which was easy, “Turn around, go exactly the opposite direction from which you are currently travelling, and you’ll be there in 10.”

The second was a little trickier. A lovely English-impaired couple waved me over to their car, and asked for directions to the Lincoln Museum. The WHAT? Exactly.

Were they looking for the Lincoln Memorial? No, they’d already been there.

Ford’s Theatre? No.

I knew they weren’t really going to the Lincoln Museum…because that’s in Fort Wayne, Indiana. And, having spent a lovely night in the Fort Wayne International Airport (so-called because there’s one flight a week to Canada), I know that’s not a city where anyone would voluntarily go. The highlights of my Fort Wayne excursion included sharing a plate of nachos with a toothless man named Shiloh, and hearing all about the local murder scene from a cabbie.

At this point they became belligerent and cranky, because, really, it’s all my fault that the landmark they requested is (according to Google Maps) 558 miles and 9.5 hours of drive time from their current location. Plus, the trip includes three toll roads and a long slog across Pennsylvania.

Eventually, after feeling my evening, my sanity, and my soul slipping away, I sent them back to the Lincoln Memorial with the instruction, “It’s a big marble dude in a chair, and you’ll hear a bunch of tourists yelling, ‘Jenn-AY!’ and ‘FORR-est!’ to each other.” Then I ran away.

Is it September yet?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Leave It To Beaver?

Disclaimer: If you are related to me in any way, or work with me, please do not read this post.

Alert reader/pop culture blogger Dana forwarded me the following website:

Betty Beauty

Manic Panic for the pubes, y’all. Mix up a batch for your snatch. The curtains can match the drapes. Give the ol' cat a new coat. There are even fun stencils and a super-special bridal kit. All you’ll need is a set of Shrinky-Dinks and some scrapbooks and you’ve got a fun little rainy day craft party.

Dana’s objection to this product was that women already spend enough time plucking, tweezing, and fussing, we don’t need to agonize over our beaverly beauty as well.

My objection is far simpler: I thought dye-worthy amounts of pubic hair had been outlawed by the February 1999 issue of Cosmopolitan, when full landscaping, landing strips, and other accoutrements of pre-pubescence became the norm.

So why create a product for something that has moved into extinction? Perhaps we should also create grooming kits for our pet Dodos while we’re at it.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Incompetent Advice: Can We Find a Man for Lemmonex?

Darling Shannon:

Not to fan the fire of a million angry men, but I have a half serious/half joking question for you.

I have been reminded on several occasions that time, it is a ticking away. Time for me to find a man, make some babies. Where do I find these men? For reals? I am not a bad catch; have half a brain in my head, can string together coherent thoughts, will watch baseball games, cook, sexually adventurous, very soft hair, my breasts are like whoa...NO MAN. I admit, in the past, to some fairly self defeating behavior when it comes to boys, but I think I am almost there. Must snatch man, eggs slowly dying, youth fading fast...

Thanks for any insights...Lem

No one told you? Lemmonex, you petulant feminist ho, you can merely pull a husband out of your back pocket once you’re good and ready to lead a life of proper subservience and baby-popping.

Kidding aside, I have no idea why some people are single, and others are not. It's so random, and dating, love and marriage are things we actually have very little control over. A lasting relationship comes from timing, luck, chemistry, compatibility, communication, respect, humor, and affection. Those first three hurdles are the toughest: timing, luck and chemistry (yup, T.L.C....barf), and those are also the things you can’t control. Neat, huh? But you can be open to the experience and see what happens next.

So the thing to do is up the quality and quantity of the men you meet. Most advice columnists will tell you to volunteer, take classes, join a church, run up to random men in museums and lick them, etc. Bah. You want a man, not a radical lifestyle shift…correct?

So I’m going to suggest you turn to the Internet. I hereby dare you to post a personals ad on Craigslist (I know, I know…but really, as my dear friend pointed out, Craigslist works sort like Boyfriend Netflix). I’ll be happy to proof your ad and will even help you sift through the inevitable weenie pictures and bad poetry.
Be yourself, throw in a few facts that might be deal-breakers to the wrong guys, and let the right guys select themselves. I'd even say something about how you have baggage...because a man who claims he wants a woman with "no baggage" pretty much wants a blank slate with boobies, not a complex woman who's taken risks and lived a full life.

Or maybe one of my fabulous commenters will take you out for a coffee. Guys? Hello?
And does anyone else have advice, ideas, words of encouragement, etc? (Though please remember actual humans with feelings are involved here, vs. mythical Internet sprites, so please think twice, post once, and keep it respectful.)

PS: I know you’re kidding, but I’d be very careful about the hollering biological clock stuff. Committing to someone out of fear, rather than love, will fall apart in the end and leave you in a worse place then where you began. Live life at your own pace, and tune out the noise.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Joyful (and Legally Binding) Bridesmaid Experience

Alert reader Kevin sent me the following gem:
Bridesmaid Contract. According to Newsweek, these are cropping up in not-so-merry olde England as a way of guaranteeing the quality of your bridesmaid experience. I really, really hope it's a hoax.

Among the requirements: cannot gain more than seven pounds, cannot "intentionally" fall pregnant, and, cannot make any drastic hairstyle changes (a Felicity clause! Neat!).

Now, I could go on about bridezillas and entitlement and crazy social trends, but really, what I want to do is give advice to any bridesmaid who is faced with legally sanctioned indentured servitude.

Option one is to run like hell. Totally valid, and probably smart.

Option two is to recognize that the bride is not, was never, and never will be a true friend. You'd be well shot of her, and she deserves to have her Very Special Day sabotaged by a bridesmaid run amok. However, you'll have to be clever about it so you don't get sued. My ideas:

1. "I will agree to wear a dress of the bride’s choosing, regardless of my own opinions about style or colour."

Dead easy, that one. Buy a duplicate of her gown, after all, that is also a "dress of the bride's choosing."

2. "I will not intentionally fall pregnant before the wedding."

I swear it was an accident! I somehow confused my diaphragm with a piece of Tupperware. (Note: fake the pregnancy, not even I'm sick enough to suggest you spawn out of mere spite.)

3. "I will not consume more than 10 units of alcohol during the reception"

Nobody said anything about alcohol units before the ceremony, now did they?

4. "I will be happy and positive at all times during the wedding and reception."

...with a few hits of Ecstasy!

5. "I will not make advances towards any inappropriate male guests attending the reception."
The groom isn't technically a guest.

6. "I will not attempt to out-do the bride in any way"

No matter how many of these suggestions you try, you won't outdo the bride, in any way. Someone who would legally bind her nearest and dearest to an absurd set of expectations will never be outdone.

In the comments section, tell me about the most obnoxious wedding, ever.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Death Car for Smoothie: Financial Literacy

This is another post in my Old Coot Series about how all generations after mine are doomed.

A scan of news reports hints at a looming crisis: kids today can’t manage their money. Supposedly, it’s because of those tempting credit card freebie booths at college campuses, student loan debt, and a lack of financial literacy training.

All lies. I too received seductive credit card offers prior to age 18, took out loans to pay for school, and received no financial literacy training in college. And I’m pretty financially brainy, in the sense that I once froze a credit card in a block of ice until it was paid off, and then cut it up. And I was wise enough to pursue a secretarial career, so that I would never be able to buy a condo during a real estate boom. See, I’m smart like that.

The real difference? Kids of my generation watched a lot more educational filmstrips. And they were way scarier than anything the millenials and their tender sensibilities could handle. We watched gory Driver’s Ed classics about drunk drivers beheading themselves in ludicrous ways. I also remember a really awesome sex education film in which two guys in bell-bottomed cords debated where they’d gotten their gonorrhea, all while enjoying a frosty Orange Julius. But, best of all, we watched a film almost every day in eighth grade Civics.

Junior high civics films are better than parents, religion, or any other arbiter of behavior. They’re just that good.

The most important one was about financial literacy. A teenage girl needs to get her brakes repaired. She takes out loans from family members, assembles the cash, and heads to the car repair shop. However, she gets distracted on the way, and decides instead to buy a velvet blazer and a smoothie. Any time you see a smoothie in an educational film, something bad is going to happen. This time, her brakes go out completely, she spills the smoothie on her new jacket, and hurtles through a busy intersection to her death.
So, at the impressionable age of 13, I learned that poor financial planning will lead to ruined clothes and a grisly death. Also, bell bottoms can give you gonorrhea.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday's Story: She's Coming Out!

This week's tale of goofy youth is in honor of the Capital Pride Festival, which runs through Sunday. I'll be checking out the street fair and (hopefully) the poetry reading at Busboys and Poets, Sunday at 4:00. My amazing friend Sean will be reading one of his poems, you should go check it out!

So, back to the story. It's the dawn of the 90s. My sister is a junior in high school, I'm a freshman. I'm upstairs, watching Hey Dude on Nickelodeon. I hear a commotion downstairs, but go back to watching TV. Then I hear a clomp-clomp-clomp sound, coming up the stairs (one of the awesome things about being a teen in the early 90s is that the shoes were way clonky, which lent an awesome percussion to teenage tantrums).

My sister storms in, and explains the kerfuffle: she just told Mom that she's a lesbian.

I turn to her, say, "Well, that explains the poor fashion sense," and go back to watching Hey Dude.

And that's why, when weighing the pros and cons of coming out of the closet, a huge con should be: "I might have to come out to a 14-year-old girl."

Happy Pride, Skye!
And, awesomely, Skye has joined the comments...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Millenial Moratorium

Sunday's Washington Post provided a fabulous opportunity for my favorite game: Compare 'n Contrast.

The Magazine's cover story was an unintentionally hilarious portrait of the millenial overachiever freakshow: The Adventures of Supergrad. Apparently, the best thing to do with Daddy's money is found nonprofits in Rwanda, and if you don't have daddy's money, you're doomed to be a "program assistant" and do administrative work. The horrors! Having to work your way up and struggle like a mere mortal! Today's grads are so much better than that.

Meanwhile, over in the Metro section, a young father comes off a layoff, wins a full scholarship to college, and plows his way through Bucknell's engineering program to make a better life for his family: The Best and Worst of Both Worlds.

Make a wild guess as to who I'd rather work with. Also, make a wild guess as to who will be happier and more successful in ten years.

So, Post, can you please declare a moratorium on articles about predominately white, suburban, affluent overachiever millenials? We get it.

Their mommies negotiate their employment start dates, they want to save the world without doing even a smidge of scut work, and they need to be nurtured or they'll fall apart. Goodness gracious with Vegemite, We. Get. It. But I guarantee the sort of Gen Y-ers you profile (and profile, and profile...) represent a small percentage of actual young people.

In the real universe, where most of your readers live, there's more to life than the mindless accumulation of credentials. Personally, I'd like to read more articles about young dads from Bucknell and fewer about Acheivey McSpecialmeisters from Harvard.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Addiction Can Be Diagnosed Over the Internet!

This gem landed in the comments section of my post, "Alcohol Makes You Smarter and More Perceptive!":

It is very pathetic conditon to be addicted to alcohol. It spoils our
life and liver. So try to come out of it. Visit us, here we provided useful
informative tips and treatment for alcohol addiction._______________David

Alcohol abuse affects millions. This site has a lot of useful
Alcohol Abuse

That's right, folks, REHAB SPAM. This is just too awesome. Now, I am all about programs to help with substance abuse. I've seen enough friends get their lives back to know that they can work. But the methods here are pretty suspect.

Who is this person trying to help? Me? Nowhere in the post do I imply that I drink heavily. Instead, I mock the men who do. My readers? Do any of you wish to renounce drinking after the esteemed Mr. Francis called you pathetic?

Anyhow, Mr. Francis, thank you. You didn't cure me of my nonexistent alcoholism, however, it's a very pathetic condition to not know what to blog about on a Tuesday. It spoils my life and liver. So, thanks!

Monday, June 09, 2008

The Tyranny of Etiquette

One of the joys of dating me is watching me scrap with random strangers. Sunday was no exception.

Tim and I decided to catch Prince Caspian (my review: I’ll take intense battle scenes with a side of bland, please!). We got to the Columbia theater just as the previews began and settled into our seats.

Once the previews ended, the chatter began. The couple next to me began to discuss the film, in a hilariously non-subtle stage whisper.

“They must really be at Cair Paravel!”
“I bet they find their gifts!”
“It must be the dwarf that got captured earlier!”

I couldn’t tell whether they believed the audience required narration, or whether they suffered from some sort of delusion where they believed they were watching the film in their living room and it was therefore appropriate to talk. At one point, I was looking around for white canes to see if at least one was blind. Or perhaps they thought they were watching a different film from everyone else in the theater, and we needed to know what was happening in their version of Narnia. Or maybe they were just jerks.

After twenty minutes of this nonsense, I’d had enough. So I leaned in and calmly said, “Excuse me, could you please stop the discussion? It’s distracting.”

A bit of back-and-forth, and the husband leans in to me and says, “I’m very sorry, but if you’re expecting complete silence, you may want to move.”

I’m very sorry, genius, but complete silence is exactly what I expected. It’s a movie theater. People pay their hard-earned cash to listen to the film, not to a pair of monotone exurb jackasses who are deluded enough to believe they’re better storytellers than C.S. Lewis. Criminy wickets on toast, people. This isn’t hard.

My response was, “It’s not complete silence I expect, but the ongoing discussion is quite rude.” Then I mentioned ducking out for an usher. The Twitter Twins fell unto an uneasy hush, and I went back to watching the movie. After a few scenes, the woman slipped out of the theater.

When she returned, her husband asked, “So, did you speak to the manager?” The woman stage-whispered back that the manager was unwilling to intervene.

And, here you have it, folks, in a package of self-righteous cheek and modern absurdity: someone actually complained to management to fight for their right to talk during a movie. They were right to be in the wrong, to ruin the experience for those of us who actually know better. This is the dawn of a new era of noxious self-centeredness. I deserved to be kicked out of the theater for wanting to watch the film.

After the movie, Tim and I had a good cackle over that one. We theorized that good manners are a form of tyranny, and the next civil rights crusade is going to be on behalf of rude people. Tim says the next culture war will be on behalf of public urinators, however, I think there will be an insurgency of people who turn without signaling. Or to throw darts in a crowded bar.

Or, perhaps, the Rudeness Crusade is already well underway. Saturday night we saw a man wipe his face with the hem of his shirt…in an upscale steakhouse. Awesome. America rocks.

In the comments section, please tell me what side you'd fight on in the Rudeness Crusade. Or debate whether Tim is going to have to wait outside with the car engine running every time he takes me somewhere.
PS - The photo is of Miss Manners, my personal hero.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Friday's Story: Foot Fetish Jailbait

I’m on the record as saying I don’t like feet. I don’t like people who take their shoes off on planes, wiggling their toes and funking the recirculated air. Cheap rubber flip-flops gross me out. Long toenails give me the willies. Heck, I don’t even like my own feet.

So, of all the quirks and perversions the world has to offer, I understand foot fetishes the least. If you want to yodel while wearing leather and smacking each other with cooked spaghetti, go for it. I can see how that might even be sort of fun (hi, Dad!). But anything to do with feet? No way.

At age 16, I was working part time in a gift shop in Chinn Library. Which is really one of the silliest marketing ideas ever - you don’t sell stuff at a venue where people are accustomed to getting things for free. It's like selling sex toys at the free clinic. (Unless you’re the Smithsonian, but really, if it’s in Woodbridge, it’s not at that level of cultural fabulosity.) I occasionally sold things, but mostly I just sort of sat there. Most of my “customers” were friends who were dropping off library books, plus their parents.

So when an actual customer dropped in, I would just about keel over from gratitude. They never bought anything, but I was happy for the company. One rainy Tuesday, a man in a sharp suit stopped in and began questioning me about my feet.

Do I get bunions?
How about blisters?
Do I like to put foodstuffs on my feet? Chocolate sauce? Jelly?
Do I like footrubs?

The great thing is that I had no idea what this man was getting at. Instead, I patiently responded to his every question. After a few minutes, he got bored and went away.

That evening, I mentioned the mysterious customer to my mom, who reacted with uncharacteristic calm. Her usual reactions ranged from paranoia to hysteria, including the time she claimed Clearasil was carcinogenic. However, she took the romantic attentions of a fetishist upon her naïve jailbait daughter as simply a part of life.

“Wow, you’re easy,” Mom said, with classic Aussie understatement.

Apparently, even fetishists dig a challenge.

PS – lest you think I’ve become any wiser in the intervening 15 years, I still fall for:

1. 'Gullible’ isn’t in the dictionary.

2. Hey, look! Somebody wrote "gullible" across the ceiling!
PPS - Happy Divorceaversary to me! Finalized June 6, 2006 - 666, in other words, lest you needed any proof that divorcees are doomed to damnation.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Restaurant Review: Sonoma

Now that I’m gainfully employed, I’m getting to experience all the restaurants I’d been dying to try during my year of temping (when the typical meal out involved a Dollar Menu).

The DC dining scene has four distinct categories: Comfort Food, Dinner with Girlfriends, Date Night, and Wow the Yokels. Sometimes, like last night, I goof and miscategorize.

Tim and I chose Sonoma for a special occasion, with the idea it was a Date Night sort of place. It’s really more Wow the Yokels. As in, the sort of restaurant you take out-of-town visitors to show off how hip DC can be (either to blow away your country cousin, or take New Yorkers if you’re insecure about DC’s legendary/overblown lack of cool). Wow the Yokels restaurants are cool, trendy, specialize in obscure cheeses, and are usually very loud.

Sonoma is loud enough to Wow the Yokels. Like, deafeningly so. Clatter, clamor, rattles and chatter. It’s like dining inside a cement mixer. A cement mixer inside a nightclub. And that nightclub is inside a Victorian-era insane asylum with lots of screaming people. Tim and I could not converse for most of our meal, as I lost my voice a few weeks ago and have yet to recover. (Most days, I sound like either a phone-sex worker or a middle-aged chain smoker.) So we were reduced to eavesdropping on the two rowdy women next to us. Aside: Sweetie, he’s not going to propose until you move out. Cow/milk/free, sometimes Mom is right.

No surprise that the wine list is the big draw – two pages of wines available by the 3 oz pour, the glass, or the bottle. I love the idea of a 3 oz pour - it's like a tapa for boozehounds. The categories are very helpful to those of us who generally just order the second-cheapest red and call it a day: medium finish reds, light and crisp whites, etc. I ordered a 3 oz pour for the cheese course, and a full glass for following courses (the wine tab was about $15 each).

We started with a two-cheese course ($10) – I chose a blue cheese, Tim chose a sheep’s milk cheese. I liked mine better, as I love the sort of cheeses that curl your nose hairs, smack your mama, and teach you what’s what. The red wine jelly was a clever touch. I also loved the little bowl of olives, as I pretty much got them to myself (there are definite perks to dating a non-olive person).

Next up was a starter of chilled scallops over greens ($12ish?). Fabulous. Incredible. Well-balanced, not overpowering, and just about perfect. I could eat that every day for the rest of my natural existence, then be Sonoma’s scallop-loving poltergeist ho in the afterlife.

For our main courses, Tim had the pollock over asparagus ($23), with a side of roast potatoes ($5ish) and I had the hanger steak with twice-baked cheddar potato and seasonal greens ($26). The steak was the first disappointment of the evening: a bit tough even by hanger steak standards. I wish I’d disobeyed the chef’s recommendation and ordered it medium-rare, instead of medium. There was a lovely grilled crispiness to the outside, but, overall, it was a miss. Tim’s pollock was well-prepared and tasty, but nothing spectacular.

At this point, we’d downed enough food to sate a Uruguayan soccer team, so we skipped dessert.

As for the service, it’s definitely attentive. At one point, we had three waiters. There were no order mixups, and servers seemed very tuned in to timing issues – courses arrived at reasonable intervals, and our glasses didn’t go empty. However, I think the tone was a bit casual. Lots of "you guys" and popping of heads into our conversation. If you’re dropping over $100 for dinner for two, then I expect Sir and Madam and not a Jalapeno Poppers/Pieces of Flair service vibe.

I think Sonoma is definitely worth the trip, and it’s a good value for the quality of the food. But I’d go with a group of girlfriends, perhaps for a milestone birthday, rather than as a romantic dinner for two. It’s just too loud for mushiness. Or I'd take some out-of-towners who love wine. And I’d stick to cheese and charcuterie plates, starters, and small courses, and share them amongst the group.

Food: 8
Ambience: 6 (a lovely room, but 3 points off for excessive noise)
Service: 7
Wine List: 10
Categories: Wow the Yokels, Dinner with Girlfriends

PS - I added some e-friends and members of the commentariat to my blogroll. One day, my blogroll will be bigger than Arjewtino's formidable list. One day.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Women Are Stupid. We Get It. Whatever.

OK, straight men of America, we get it. Sarah Jessica Parker isn’t pretty. She’s horse-faced, goat-faced, hatchet-faced, skinny-legged, flat-chested, pointy-elbowed, and all-out hideous. She screeches too much, she can’t act, she dresses like a high-dollar psychedelic freakshow, and you wouldn’t have sex with her if she wore a paper bag on her head and paid you to do it. Oh, and Matthew Broderick is totally gay.

Also, guys, we do understand that Sex and the City was the stupidest show ever. Unmarried women over 30 are pathetic ugly old maids, no matter how many fancy shoes they buy. Women's expectations went haywire, as they tried to mimic the lifestyle of cruising the clubs at 40 and buying stuff they couldn’t afford. The show is shorthand for all that’s “wrong” with the women of America.

The movie was dumb, but you sure as hell didn’t go, because you have no desire to commit cinematic castration. It’s dumb that women dressed up and went in groups. And the box-office take is a sign of the Apocalypse.

Really, dude, we get it. And nobody cares what you think. It has nothing to do with you (which may be what ticks you off so much). SATC is fun and silly and girly. And that’s why women like it. We don’t consider it a new code of feminism or a roadmap for life. If anything, we think it’s anti-feminist and too man-centric. The women of America aren’t taking things half as seriously as you are. And before you use Sex and the City as a rationale to demean women, let me point out that women are not behind the success of fantasy baseball, watching poker tournaments on TV, or the odiously unfunny Dane Cook.

So can we all please just get on with our lives?

PS – I didn’t see the movie last weekend, I totally would have if I hadn’t had visitors from out of town. I just can’t get over the idea that it’s OK to tear apart the physical appearance of a fellow human being. What did SJP ever do to deserve a whole website comparing her to various horses? I also think straight guys take that show WAY more seriously than the girls and the gays ever did. Lighten up, people.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Demographic Wormhole

Human nature is a fabulous thing. If you want proof, take a look at some divorce statistics.

My perspective is pretty skewed when it comes to marriage. My parents are divorced. I divorced at age 29, the average age of female "first divorce" in America. Of the three people I ate dinner with Saturday, two are separated, the third is my boyfriend. (Who I am sure was quite impressed by the stat-citing, timeline expertise and legal wrangling of the Divorceketeers at the table.) Many of my high school and college friends are divorced or separated. I am the center of a bizarre demographic wormhole that sucks marriages and finances orthodontia for lawyer's daughters everywhere.

Pair the wormhole with the fact I'm a former pollster. I while away the hours researching divorce statistics on the Internet. The one that gets cited the most, with the least evidence? Half of all marriages fail. Hrm, not quite.

Forty percent of all first marriages end in divorce. Of those, half end in the first five years - so if you can make it five years, the gods of statistics will most likely let death do you part.

Second marriages have a failure rate of about 60 percent. Third marriages fail 70% of the time, and once you move into Liz Taylor territory, your chances of a successful marriage approach lottery winner/struck by lightning levels.

So, back to human nature: not only do we NOT learn from our mistakes, the harder we try, the more we screw up. And on that cheery note, commenters, toss in your favorite statistic. Or bemoan no-fault divorce, the greatest invention of the 20th century. No-fault is the sliced bread of the New America.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Artomatic: Come for the Art, Stay for the Fire-Freaking

I saw a woman set her boob on fire!

And how was your weekend?

Now that I’ve got your attention, Artomatic runs through June 15. It's art, music, film, bars...basically an all-inclusive DC freakshow. Check it out.

I went Saturday evening with Tim and two visiting college buddies (after visiting the Temperance Memorial and the Sonny Bono Park, I'm all about the oddball tours). A few impressions:

1. The Bush administration has been hell on the arts. I saw some seriously bad political paintings, depicting all sorts of Revelations-centric images of Bush and Cheney. Or sometimes Cheney was skipping along a river of blood, or Bush’s head had been superimposed on a missile.

2. And Bush has been particularly bad for music. One of the singers we checked out had rejiggered every Dylan song, ever, to protest the Bush Administration. He even used the Marine's anthem as a protest song at one point. I couldn’t tell if this guy was for real, or if it was some sort of performance art parody. The singer’s long-winded announcement that he opposed the commercialization of music and was therefore not available on iTunes did little to settle the debate.

3. The Peeps dioramas had more artistic merit than about 80% of the artists who were selling their work.

4. I love being carded!

5. The fire dancers were the best part, for the worst reasons. There is something unsettling (but horribly funny) about watching clumsy amateurs frolic with open flames. Aside from the boob fire, we saw one dancer fall on his butt (twice!), two dancers attempt to fire-freak, and one woman trip over her fiery baton. It felt sort of like a middle school dance recital, except that the dancers were all those kids who set bugs on fire with magnifying glasses.

So, uh, Artomatic. Check it out.